"Q & A" FROM CBS.COM---2000
It was a hot and humid summer day in
New York City when CBS.com caught up
with PAUL LEYDEN for a getting to
know you chat. Despite the heat, the
Australian actor was personable and
open about his mysterious role of
Simon Frasier on As the World Turns,
his co-stars, his family and his hopes
for the future.
CBS.com: How is it going at ATWT?
PAUL LEYDEN: It's going well. It's
good because my schedule has kind of
quieted down a little bit. Finally, I can
just chill out and get to see the city
and do some touristy things, which I
haven't had a chance to do yet.
CBS.com: Have you lived in the States before?
PAUL LEYDEN: No, not before the show. This is the first time I've
been over here. I came over in early January for the call back
audition. This is it - the first time I've been to the States, and
definitely the first time I've lived here. It's all very new!
CBS.com: How do you like living in New York?
PAUL LEYDEN: I think it's great. I love New York. New York is just
everything it's cracked up to be - it's a big, bustling, energetic city
and there's always something happening. Come summer, it's a
little depressing that it's so sweltering hot and there's no escape.
There are no pools around; the closest ocean you can swim in is
about an hour away. I think that's going to get to me. It's one of
those things that you have to adjust to, I guess. But apart from
that, I'm having a great time in New York.
CBS.com: How did you land the role?
PAUL LEYDEN: I was back home in Melbourne doing an audition
for a new primetime series. I was on about my third call back for
that when my agent called up and said they want you to put an
audition down for a CBS TV show that's shot in New York. I said,
"That sounds pretty cool." I had no idea what the show was. I had
a feeling it was a soap, but I wasn't sure exactly. So I did the
audition at a studio back home, and my agent sent it over and [I]
thought nothing else of it. I didn't really care what happened.
[Laughs] You know, because I was booked out anyway [with the
local show]. Then this job came through; they wanted to fly me out
for a call back audition. And that's when everything sort of took a
new direction. All the contract stuff had to be worked out before I
was flown over because if I agreed to come over for the call back
audition and if I got the job, then it was sort of a given that I'd
take it. It's pretty hard making decisions about what you're going
to do when you haven't even got the job yet. I decided that
despite the fact that the show back home was going to be really
terrific, to be given an opportunity possibly of working in the States
and living in New York was too good to pass up. So, I came over
for the call back audition, thought I bombed it completely, pretty
much tripped over the carpet and hit my head on the furniture.
[Laughs] I must have done something right...God knows what! I
went back home and two weeks later, they called up and said,
"Yeah, you got it."
CBS.com: You screen-tested with
Martha Byrne (Lily/Rose). What was
your first impression of her?
PAUL LEYDEN: She was great. I didn't
know this at the time, but she had
been trying to audition for this role for
about nine months. She'd seen about
35 or 40 people who had to do the
same audition scene and kiss her at
the end of the scene. We were the last
lot of Australians that they had flown
over. So, I think she was at the end of
her tether with the whole audition
process, but she was so professional
and really giving. She was terrific. And
she's a great kisser! [Laughs]
CBS.com: Simon is very mysterious. What can you tell us about
PAUL LEYDEN: Well, I'm kind of learning about him everyday as
well. Because we don't have a breakdown of what's going to
happen to the character or the story more than a week in advance,
you kind of just continually learn about the character you're
playing day by day. He did start off quite mysterious and,
obviously, as a bit of a con artist trying to weasel his way into Lily's
life somehow to track down this diamond. I guess that was his
main priority. But as the weeks go by, that's becoming less and
less important as his relationship with Lily grows into one of great
affection, I think. [She's] someone that he really enjoys being
around, someone who can handle him and sort of give it right
back to him as good as he gives. You know what I mean? Every
single time I'm on the floor playing this character, I'm learning so
much and trying to take risks with the character, trying to make
him fairly bold. Obviously, some of them pay off and some of
them don't. That's what's good about this medium of TV, you do
it, it's over, then you go on to the next [scene] and you try to
make up for something that you didn't like in the last scene. That
sort of got off the question a little bit, didn't it? [Laughs]
CBS.com: Were you given a lot of background about Simon
PAUL LEYDEN: No. When I got the job, I had to fly out of Australia
as soon as the Visa came through, which took about a week. They
FedExed about three scripts. I flew in on Wednesday morning. I
got into New York at about two o'clock in the morning. I had a
meeting with [Executive Producer] Chris Goutman at about 9:30,
and I was on the floor shooting by about ten to ten. [Laughs] So
the background information I got on him was during that
twenty-minute conversation with Chris. I don't think they really
knew where he was going or what he was going to be doing
because the storyline was only in the beginning stages. I think a
lot of what they initially had planned for this character may have
changed as the story has gone along. As I said, I'm kind of
learning everyday and not really knowing where the story is going.
Once we get off the island and back into Oakdale, who I'll be
involved with, I have no idea. Every single day is kind of flying by
the seat of your pants a little, but that makes it exciting at the
same time because you don't plan too much. You don't have any
idea in your mind of what you want to do. You just kind of play
each moment as it comes.
CBS.com: Do you know anything about Simon's relationship with
his sister Celia?
PAUL LEYDEN: Again, no background information. We have no
idea where we come from. [Laughs] It's all a little bit up in the air.
It's sort of what you make of it on the day. I think Fiona
[Hutchison, Celia] obviously had her ideas about their relationship,
so it seemed pretty dysfunctional. I don't think they get along.
Something happened in the past for them to be sort of mortal
CBS.com: It seems like you enjoy working with Martha.
PAUL LEYDEN: Oh, I love it. It's a great job; it's a terrific show. I
think there are some really fantastic actors on the show. Out of all
daytime soaps, I think this is one of the better-acted shows on TV.
To get the opportunity to work with Martha is fantastic. Not only do
I love working with her as an actor, but she's a great personality.
She has made my transition to New York 100 times easier than it
could have been. She's great. We get along like a house on fire.
We have a very similar sense of humor, which is a pretty dirty
sense of humor. I can't speak highly enough of her. She's terrific.
CBS.com: How was it to work with Martha playing Rose as opposed
PAUL LEYDEN: It was great because it was probably a little more
Martha than Lily. [Laughs] You saw these flashes come through in
Rose and you're like, "That's just like talking to Martha in her
dressing room!" I love working with Rose because I can see how
much fun Martha was having with it as well. I can't wait to work with
Rose again because [Martha] has delineated those characters so
well. They're two such different people that when I finally got to
work with Rose, it was seriously like working with a different
actress. Lily and Rose are just kind of worlds apart. [Martha] has
obviously done so much work, and it's really paying off in the fact
that the characters are different. Which gives me something to
work off, too. I don't have to pretend that I'm working with a
different person, because it's really obvious that it is.
CBS.com: What are your hopes for
PAUL LEYDEN: I don't know. I don't
think that people on screen know who
he really is. It's all a cover. Every time
Lily tries to talk to him about his past
life, he gets off it. No one's been able
to get close to him. So, I guess my
hope is that the relationship with Lily
will bring something out in him. I think
that will completely settle him as a
person and make him kind of a more
loveable character than he is now.
CBS.com: You haven't had the
opportunity to work with much of the
cast. Who would you like to work with?
PAUL LEYDEN: As I said, I'm working with Martha, so I have no
complaints whatsoever. But I guess for the show and the storylines
and to keep this character going, he's going to have to be
integrated into Oakdale. If that's the case, I'd love to be involved
somehow with Terri's [Conn] character Katie and Trent [Dawson,
Henry]. I think add Simon into that mix and it can be kind of fun.
CBS.com: We've gotten some letters saying Simon should hook
up with Julia.
PAUL LEYDEN: Oh, yeah. Again, I wouldn't complain if they
hooked me up with Annie [Parisse]. That's fine. She's very cute.
She's a great girl.
CBS.com: What do you do when you're not at the ATWT studio?
PAUL LEYDEN: At the moment, I've had a lot of people visiting
from Australia. So it's been good to do some kind of touristy
things and get out and about and kind of discover the city with
someone who doesn't really know it either. When I don't have
visitors in town, I pretend I'm a local and just do normal things -
eat, sleep and go to work. When I have visitors in town, that's
when I kind of get out and about and really explore the city. I've
met some really terrific actors and filmmakers in town. I do a lot
of writing. I've written a feature and I'm halfway through another
one and I've just finished two short films.
CBS.com: Have you always been interested in writing?
PAUL LEYDEN: I've always had a passion for it, since I was way
back in primary school. I didn't have the opportunity [to write]
when I first got over here because I didn't have my computer.
Since I've kind of settled here now and I got a laptop, I'm really
right back into that now, which is good. It's another creative outlet
from the show. I'd love to be able to get into some theater here
and meet some people in the independent film scene because
that's ultimately where my passion is - film. To be able to meet
some great people in that field and work when I'm not on the
show would be perfect.
CBS.com: Tell me about the feature you just wrote.
PAUL LEYDEN: It's kind of a psychological thriller. It's a young and
funky, urban based psychological thriller, bit of a love triangle. It's
like Fight Club meets The Game.
CBS.com: That sounds cool!
PAUL LEYDEN: It's pretty cool, actually.
CBS.com: Do you go to the movies often?
PAUL LEYDEN: I probably go to movies more than I should.
Especially here in New York. All the big movies come out to
Australia, but here you just have the opportunity to see a new film
opening every week and it's great. I try to get to about two movies
a week because I love seeing films, even if they're not that good.
I love watching films and watching actors and what they're doing.
It's good escapism for a couple of hours. Gets me off the streets!
CBS.com: What is the best movie you've seen recently?
PAUL LEYDEN: It definitely wasn't Mission Impossible II. That was
really disappointing because it was shot in Sydney as well. The one
that I've kind of enjoyed the most recently was High Fidelity with
John Cusack. I had read the book beforehand and it was a really,
really good, close adaptation to the book. I went and saw Shaft
recently and that was fun. It was good to see an Australian actor
like Toni Collette doing really well.
CBS.com: I understand you dabble in
music as well.
PAUL LEYDEN: Yeah. Not to as great a
degree as I used to when I was
younger. When I went through
secondary school, I played the sax
and was in lots of bands. Then I went
through one of those weird early
twenties periods when you get involved
in things you shouldn't and you run
out of money. [Laughs] So, I sold my
saxophone, which was a nice,
beautiful, incredible instrument. It was
a great, great saxophone. I haven't
gotten around to buying another one
since. That's another thing I want to
do when I'm here. I play the guitar as
well. I was actually going to do that this week, go out and get a
guitar and take some singing lessons and get back into that side
of things as well. If I've got the time, I might as well. I want to
milk this city for what it's worth while I'm here.